WESTTOWN — A stolen car was recovered and a suspected car thief was arrested after they were identified by a patrol vehicle equipped with real-time license plate reading technology, police said.
According to the Westtown-East Goshen Regional Police Department, 41-year-old Salvatore Giacona, of Claymont, Del., was pulled over after he drove past a patrol vehicle equipped with an automated license plate reader system in the 1100 block of Wilmington Pike (Route 202) around 4:45 p.m. Saturday.
Police said the vehicle was rented from a car rental company at Philadelphia International Airport last August, but Giacona allegedly never returned the vehicle.
But when he drove past Officer Peter Keegan’s marked vehicle Saturday, a rear-facing camera captured the registration tag of the blue Ford Fusion and automatically alerted the officer that the vehicle was stolen.
Police officials said Keegan alerted backup units he had located a stolen vehicle, and followed behind until they arrived. Keegan and the assisting units from several area agencies pulled over the vehicle without incident and made contact with Giacona.
Investigators said they determined Giacona had stolen the vehicle from the Philadelphia rental location, and the Philadelphia Police Department and the rental company were both notified of the arrest.
Giacona was charged with receiving stolen property, unauthorized use of an automobile and driving with a suspended license, police said. He was transported to Chester County Prison overnight and released Sunday after posting bail, according to court records.
Arresting officers were assisted by members of the Birmingham Police Department and the Pennsylvania State Police.
The Westtown-East Goshen Regional Police Department is one of several departments in Chester County that has a patrol car equipped with the license plate reader technology. The department obtained the system through a federal grant just over a year ago, and it has led to the recovery of three stolen vehicles, police said.
The system employs the use of three high-resolution cameras, two pointing forward and one to the rear, that automatically run passing license plates through a database and instantly determines if the vehicle is stolen.
The Coatesville, West Chester, and West Whiteland police departments are among the other county police force’s that have patrol vehicles equipped with license plate reader technology.